Can I become CA after studying biology

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Study Guide: Study Biology

Silence in the laboratory. Everyone is holding their breath. If even one hand trembles now, if the needle slips by even a millimeter, the whole attempt has failed. But everything goes as planned - after all, the biology students are well prepared theoretically and practically for these experiments. And many steps have long been routine anyway. Laboratory and specialist knowledge - these are the two legs that trained biologists will later stand on.


By Thomas Delecat, supplemented by the Studis online editorial team

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Zoology in miniature

1. Frequently asked questions

The Biology degree is divided in four large sub-areas: Botany, zoology, anthropology and microbiology. So in your studies you deal with the study of plants, animals, humans and microorganisms. There are also special sub-disciplines such as biophysics, genetics, molecular biology, ecology, physiology and cell biology



2. Content of the course

Biology - that is the science of life. Exciting, diverse and future-oriented. A subject that in its limits extends to psychology and physics, which internally has to do with more than just abstract formulas, gray theory and boring series of experiments. Even if, as with all natural sciences, this is of course part of it.

You study living animals and plants, microorganisms and even humans. Individual individuals as well as species and species are observed how they shape their survival, how they reproduce, develop and change. And you are looking for the common that connects all manifestations of life on earth with one another.

Four major areas

Roughly speaking, the course is divided into four major sub-areas, the names of which are familiar to every layperson. First of all, there is botany, the doctrine of the plant kingdom. Second, about zoology, that is, the study of the animal kingdom.

In anthropology, humans are regarded as a "special case", although nowadays this also includes research and the comparison with primates (monkeys). Last but not least, microbiology is the fourth major sub-area that primarily deals with the study of microorganisms. In addition to these four large "hemispheres" of biology, a whole series of very special sub-disciplines (biosciences) has developed over the last few decades.

Sub-disciplines of biology

The best known of these are cell biology, genetic engineering, ecology, bioinformatics or marine biology. If you as a prospective student already have a very specific interest in this, you should look carefully when choosing the university to see where it sets its academic focus.

Although roughly the same basics are taught in every Bachelor's degree, lecturers who are “close” to the subject often focus on different areas. In addition, the offer in the compulsory elective area is influenced by this and you can, if you want to do your master's degree later, make contact with other students or the lecturers.

This differentiation in biology has also led to a growing number of courses of study that are related to biology but can be studied separately. This includes, for example, the already mentioned subjects of bioinformatics or ecology, but also biotechnology.

These courses are all interdisciplinary between biology and other, mostly more technically oriented sciences. Often they can also be studied as a master’s degree following a bachelor’s degree in biology. But also in psychology and of course medicine you will not be able to avoid acquiring profound, biological knowledge.

Even in rather atypical subjects such as philosophy, sociology and law, there are debates that argue for a stronger influence of bioscientific knowledge in one's own theories.

In general, a specialization is only possible to a limited extent in the Bachelor's degree. This course of study serves to impart the fundamentals with which one is made “fit” for professional life or a subsequent academic career. The real specialization then takes place through the choice of a corresponding master’s course. Since these are very special, this can result in a change of university.

If you already have very specific interests before starting your studies, for example in combining technical and biological content, you should think about whether the above-mentioned interdisciplinary subjects are more suitable for you.

An overview of related subjects in biology

Everyday student life

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Working in the laboratory is one of them
Once you have found your place of study after searching, you can start learning unhindered. And really. The first two semesters in particular are usually very crowded and demand a lot of hard work and discipline from students. Later it becomes a little more relaxed.

The universities want to sort the wheat from the chaff here. But that sounds worse than it actually is. If you are interested in studying, you will usually get through this tough introductory phase well. The universities are more concerned with bringing all applicants to the same level of knowledge and filtering out those who study biology perhaps more out of "embarrassment" because they have not been given a place for their dream studies.

In terms of content, the biology course is very different from other courses. In addition to the usual lectures and seminars, as a student you will also spend a lot of time in the laboratory. Sometimes you even have to do internships during the semester break.

Animal testing

Unfortunately, “cutting around” living animals is still not part of the curriculum at most universities. Almost every biology student will get a live rat or frog under the dissecting knife in the course of their studies.

A discussion is taking place as to why, for example, a botanist also has to do this, but this has not yet led to a widespread rethinking. See also our article What alternatives are there? Animal consumption in studies. Ultimately, every student has to deal with this with their own conscience and in case of doubt you should ask the university of your choice whether you can get exempt from such “internships”.

If you study at a university where animal experiments are carried out as part of research, you must also expect to be approached about them by your friends, roommates and acquaintances.


3. Duration of biology studies and degrees

The biology course usually lasts 6 semesters and is called Bachelor of Science completed with a bachelor thesis. A total of 180 ECTS points (credit points) are earned.

Biology is often studied as part of a multiple bachelor's degree. It can be a major or a minor. There are also degree programs in which it is half of a 2-subject bachelor's degree.

You can then complete a master’s degree in biology or a similar master’s degree. The Master of Science can in 4 semesters to be completed, where 120 credits must be provided.

In addition, biology can be studied to become a teacher, usually as a Bachelor and Master of Education, and more rarely for a state examination. For more information, see our article on studying teaching.


Forms of study in biology

The classic form of biology studies is full-time face-to-face studies. You study full-time at a university where you go to events (lectures, exercises, tutorials, depending on the subject, also projects, laboratory, etc.) and where the exams take place. Full-time means roughly 40 hours / week, whereby in reality there are usually phases with less time expenditure compared to others (especially before larger exams) in which more time per week is spent studying.

In addition, there are a few part-time courses, i.e. the course is organized in such a way that you can complete your degree with less time per week but a correspondingly longer period of study.




4. What does a biology degree cost?

Total cost of living

During a biology degree you need a financial basis for accommodation at the place of study, for food, clothing, travel expenses, telephone & internet as well as books & workbooks. Depending on the location and your own thrift, the monthly expenses between € 630 and over € 1,500. On average, students now spend over € 850 a month.

Munich is the front runner in terms of rents and the cost of living per se, but Frankfurt / Main, Hamburg, Cologne and increasingly Berlin are also well above average. It is cheaper to live in smaller cities away from the metropolises, especially in the new federal states.

Main cost: rent

The Rent for a room in a flat share, depending on the city 269 ​​euros and 585 euros (2018 values ​​plus five percent). Since the 2019/20 winter semester, thanks to the 26th BAföG Amendment Act, the rental fee has been at least € 325. Despite the increase, this amount is not enough in many cities to cover the costs of a room in a shared apartment or even an apartment.


Costs depending on location and personal situation

There is another half-yearly for the course Semester fee to pay. This enables cheaper cafeteria prices, for example. In some study cities, a semester ticket for local public transport is included, which increases the semester fee, but is significantly cheaper than other season tickets for the respective transport association. There are also student bicycle workshops at some of the larger universities.

Health insurance costs must be taken into account if family insurance through the parents is no longer possible.


Do I have to pay tuition fees to study biology?

Practically all bachelor's and consecutive masters can attend state universities without tuition fees to be started. Consecutive Master’s degrees follow a bachelor’s degree in the same subject (or at least a similar one) and do not require any professional experience. In some federal states, however, a long course or a second course is subject to a fee.



5. How can I pay for my biology degree?

Money from parents

A job of yours parents - and that is even explicitly regulated in the German Civil Code (BGB § 1610) - it is to you one adequate professional training to enable. This also includes you during your studies financially or with board and lodging to help out. The decision as to whether it should be a degree and which subject area is primarily up to you, if your high school diploma enables you to take this path. The state supports your parents with child benefit, among other things, which in exceptional cases can also be paid out directly to you.

If your parents have little income or are no longer obliged to support them, BAföG comes into play.


Apply for BAföG: State funding, half free!

BAföG intended for students step in when your parents - from the perspective of the law - have too little incomein order to provide sufficient support for the studies. If you are under 30 years of age and have not started any vocational training, BAföG is usually safe for your studies - otherwise check your BAföG entitlement. With our BAföG calculator you can calculate the amount of your BAföG.

Student BAföG is a social benefit, of which a maximum of 50 percent must be paid back. The BAföG repayment is limited to € 10,010, starts only years later and only if enough is earned. Have you already completed an apprenticeship and then worked for several years and in a few other exceptional cases you could even do so Parent-independent BAföG give for you.


Scholarships for studying biology

Scholarships are available to a much smaller group than BAföG. Greatest advantage: Received through grants Funding is given. Often there is also one ideal support. In order to apply for a scholarship, a letter of motivation, curriculum vitae, recommendations and certificates are usually required. You can only be suggested for a few scholarships.

The major student funding agencies award scholarships according to BAföG rules (i.e. depending on the parents' income). In addition, there are 300 euros “book money” per month for everyone. The application process usually begins six months in advance.

In addition to the large student funding agencies, there are still many other foundationswho each award a few (or really only individual) scholarships. Such small foundations are often very persistent special funding purposes, so that not always just performance is crucial.

For Stays abroad during your studies there can be funding in the form of ERASMUS grants or through the DAAD.


Jobs as a student trainee / mini job / self-employed

Most students work at least part of the time during their studies, often as Mini jobbers or as Working student. Working hours are allowed during the lecture period 20 hours per week do not exceed.

The BAföG will be credited if your average earnings are over 450 euros in the month. In contrast to tax, the decisive factor is not the calendar year, but the period in which the BAföG is granted.

Special features apply if you are self-employed as a student.


State education loan and other options

For students in higher semesters or in the master’s program there is state education loan with low interest rates and a payout of up to 300 euros / month for at most two years.

A student loan (or an education fund), on the other hand, should only be considered as a last resort if the cheaper options are insufficient or if, for example, at the end of your studies you should be able to concentrate on studying without a job.

If you have already reached the last semesters of your studies, can possibly - especially in social emergencies - also a Graduation loan or bridging loans are possible. Do not be afraid to inquire and - if possible for you - to take advantage of one. The conditions are significantly better than for educational loans or even student loans!



We have collected all the relevant sources of funding for your studies: BAföG, educational loans, jobs, child benefits, scholarships, student loans, parental support and much more



6. Career prospects

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A specialization in biology: biotechnology / genetic engineering
Basically, you should study what you enjoy. If you put your heart and soul into it, you will also find a job later - provided you can show a certain flexibility (time and place). If, on the other hand, you want to study biology purely for career reasons, it is not advisable to do so. The career prospects have been mixed for years, especially in the field of research, which mainly takes place at universities.

In any case, it seems advisable to aim for a master’s degree after completing your bachelor’s degree and to specialize according to your interests, but also according to the market situation. It should be noted that biologists are mainly sought in the research itself. This can take place at universities, but also in private research institutions in the economy, for example in the pharmaceutical industry, medicine or agricultural sciences. A specialization in a molecular subject (genetics, microbiology, biochemistry) is expressly recommended as helpful by "finished" biologists, although cuts are already being made in some areas.

Things look a little worse with »advisory jobs«, where the biologist is needed as an expert, so to speak. But graduated biologists can also work for specialist journals, public institutions, environmental protection organizations or even for companies that offer nutritional advice.

In short: the spectrum in biology is large and the opportunities for specialization are diverse, but career prospects with a pure bachelor's degree are limited. The important thing is: you have to specialize consistently. Whereby it can be clever not to put everything on one card, because who knows where exactly will be needed later. So if you pursue two topics that are as independent as possible for a longer period of time, you have an alternative later if the prospects for one specialization are not so great after all. You should also sharpen your professional profile through your own initiative - especially with a view to a job outside of the university.If you want to take the path of “research at the university”, you have to be aware that there is a lot of crowd here and very few places are available.


7. Salary of biologists

Salary in € Master Uni
Ø Specialist group natural sciences; Biology; Survey: DZHW.
Quite a few people are interested in the question of salary. Biologists who have not decided to become a teacher can to start your career with an income of 34.000 € calculate.

Five years after graduation the annual income of biologists is around 47.200 €.

ten years after graduation, biologists have an income of around 60.700 €. In the natural sciences department, they earn the least of all. For comparison: mathematicians can earn up to € 76,000 10 years after completing their master’s degree.

For prospective teachers, different salaries apply, depending on the federal state and civil servant status, but the usual starting salary is around € 20,300.

It must be emphasized again that the starting salary figures apply to the entire field of science and, as with all salary information, applies: Depending on the specific position in the company, industry, size of the company, place of employment and much more, specific salaries differ more or more less strongly of average numbers.

Since the numbers are a few years old, the current salaries could be a little higher.

Source: DZHW graduate surveys. All salaries for full-time employees including bonuses, rounded to the nearest hundred. Starting salary as of 2013. Salary after 5 years as of 2014. Salary after 10 years as of 2015. Surcharges for 5/10 years self-estimated.


For all departments and many degree programs, details on the salary prospects for starting a career and five and 10 years later


additional Information

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Related Links

Recommended reading: Study Guide Biology
The Association of German Biologists (vdbiol) regularly published this volume, which provided detailed information about the course and the individual universities. The last edition is from 2013 and is only available as an antiquarian - but can often be viewed by asking the student advisory service at the employment agency.

Note: This article has been easily adapted by the Students online-Editorial revised, so no longer corresponds to the original original by the author. The last change was made on the date given above.









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